Monthly Archives: March 2013

Adventures in writing – a personal view by Stuart G Yates: how do I get known?

There are so many authors out there now, it’s like a world gone mad. I feel sorry for the poor reader, avid or not. How are they supposed to choose who and what to read? It’s something I’ve been trying to think about a lot.

How do I make my choices?

It’s difficult for me right now. Living in Spain, I have little opportunity to visit a bookshop. An English one, I mean. We used to have one where I live, but it has closed. They even stocked my books for a while, but now the whole venture has disappeared – along with my books! I’ll never get them back, nor will I get anything from the company. I’m not even sure if they exist. But I wander from the point (which isn’t uncommon for me!).

So…how do I choose a book?

Sometimes, it’s by the only really credible way – recommendation. A friend reads something, they pass on a copy to you. You like it, you then go out and buy another by the author. We all do this, and it’s a great way of discovering new books. Then there are recommendations in magazines, newspapers and, of course, Amazon. I like the way they link similar themes together, so if you put in a search for a well-known author you could end up buying a book by someone totally different. I read the reviews and take the plunge. This is how I came to Simon Scarrow, and his wonderful Roman Empire novels.

We might come to them via films – this was how I ‘discovered’ James Bond, or TV, which is how I came to Ian Rankin and ‘Rebus’. There are so many different ways, more than I’ve listed, but isn’t the best one simply going into a bookshop and sifting through all those lovely, freshly printed volumes? At a visit to ‘Waterstones’ I saw a staff-recommendation for a book, priced at only £1 as an introduction to an author. This was about ten years ago, and the author was Henning Mankell, and what a find he turned out to be.

Of course, as an author, I have another problem. How do I get people to pick up my books? Being with indie publishers, I have to do the marketing myself, which is a total pain I can tell you. I’d much rather be writing. Somehow, you do feel the pressure, even sitting alone with just your word-processor for a companion, to try and promote. Panic, frustration, they all gnaw away at you. How many times have I taken a break, popped over to Facebook and become dragged into to replying and commenting on posts? And as I do this, I become increasingly agitated by the armies of authors I see on there, shouting out about how brilliant their latest book is. So many now are wound up by the need to be published and to find success. Success, which means, sales. I look at their posts and I’ve now got to the stage where I simply scroll by, not even giving them so much as a glance. Unless it is by an established author. Then I might stop, and read. I did this actually. I tried to find some top authors on Facebook. John Harvey, for example. If you like thrillers, you’ll know who he is. He hasn’t got a Facebook page. The aforesaid Ian Rankin, he has, but I’m not at all sure if he writes it. The same goes for Lee Childs…is it him?

Some authors, like Simon Kernick, Harlan Coben and Michael Jecks often post something. Michael even tells us about his walks over the moors, which is fantastic. I love this approach, which is so unassuming, so personal and nothing to do with his books (which are great by the way). Natural. There are others, however, who simply use Facebook to declare their brilliance, or their particular bigotries. These latter ones happen to be also so-called sock-puppeteers and I no longer have them as ‘friends’ or, more importantly, buy their books.

As for me, I’ve had enough. I’m so disillusioned by all this social-networking rubbish that I’ve decided I’m pretty much going to turn my back on it. I’ve just read a blog by Bernard Cornwell. It’s like a breath of fresh air and reaffirms what I’ve always known – write a good story. The rest of it is nonsense. All these marketing tips may well be very good, but if your story sucks, what is the point?

There is a whole world out there full of hard-nosed profiteers who will take your money and promise you the earth, with interviews, author pages, guest blogs. There’s one right now, on Facebook, advertising ‘How to become a best-selling author’, or words to that effect. Another ‘Make your book sell…find out how to become the next Stephen King’. These books cost 4.99. Great, pay the money, and discover what? The magic formula? I think not.

There are thousands of ‘friends’ who LIKE your book but never ever buy it. They take your free-promos, but they never have the time to write a review. I’m sick of it, there has to be another way to get yourself known, and I wish I knew what it was.

So, what do you do as somebody who wants to write? I’ll tell you my own experience, after doing this since the mid-70s, with 14 books published and 2 more due out this year. You get a job. You earn money. And you write in the evenings, or the weekends, or during your holidays. You write because you love it, because you have the urge to create. And when you’ve written a good story, you write another one. And you don’t stop, because it is what you do. You may never make any money, you may be rejected a thousand times by every agent on the planet, but you don’t care, because for you the writing is all.

That’s it. No big secret. I write, I re-draft (about 3 times), I get it proof-read, I then submit. I’ll no longer go to small independents, and I’ll not self-publish. If an agent one day likes something of mine, I will crack open the champagne and rejoice. But until that day, I no longer have any desire to shout my wares from the rooftop on Facebook. If people buy my books, that is because they like the sound of the story. And that’s good enough for me.

Here’s some timely advice about finding an agent: http://writingteennovels.com/2013/03/21/finding-a-good-literary-agent-for-your-novels-by-paul-volponi/

Visit my websites to find out a little more about me, with links to my books: www.stuartgyates.com  and

www.glennstuart.co.uk

Thanks for dropping buy, and keep on reading. Here’s a selection of some of my books, with links.

 The cover of my first 'legitimate' novel, Cold Hell in Darley Dene

big coverFront cover

 

4 Comments

Filed under fiction writing

Adventures in writing part 20 – a personal view by Stuart G Yates

It’s been some weeks since I’ve written anything.

Lots of reasons for this, but I suppose the main one was an almost total rejection of social media as a means to promote. It had been brewing up inside me for quite some time. The endless stream of writers, editors, interviewers, all of them spouting off about how great they were, how much the world owed them, and I knew, right then, right there, that I would never, ever buy any of their books. So, equally, why on earth would anyone ever buy my work? They hit the ‘like’ button, but nothing ever comes of it, so what is the point? There is none, and that is the point!

I’m not gregarious, not at all out-going. I prefer to sit in the corner, smile politely, self-effacing, quiet, ‘humble as the dust’ as the Taoists say. I find it all so uncomfortable to pontificate over how sublime and life changing my words are. Because they’re not. I write to entertain. Novels. Thrillers. Escapism. That is my medium. I don’t shout from the roof-tops at how great I am, and I can’t stand people that do. So I’ve turned my back on Facebook. Twitter is better, because I don’t understand what people say, with all those weird hash-tags and Cyrillic looking web-site addresses. Better to live in ignorance. Someone told me that they were unhappy that I did not think FB worked, and that actually it took ‘a special type of person’ to achieve success. Thanks. And good to know you think of yourself as ‘special’.

Balls.

That’s the only word to describe it all really.

I remember in the early days, writers lived in a strange, self-contained world. Lonely, but happy.  I would sit in my room, my only friend the typewriter. I’d write all day, every day, and I’d create worlds that I slipped into, populated with characters that became my friends. They weren’t real, of course. Imagined, created by me. The only difference with Facebook ‘friends’ is that they are not created by me. They exist. But are they any more ‘real’ than those ones I penned all those years ago. Unless I’ve actually met them (and I actually know perhaps only one-third of my total number of friends on FB) how can I be sure? This is coming close to all those horror stories of stalkers, and ‘dirty old men’ who lure girls into meetings and ultimately attacks. The film ‘Hard Candy’ took this to its natural conclusion, and it makes for deeply uncomfortable viewing. So, it follows, that if these people are not ‘real’, why should we believe a single word they say?

There’s a lot of material here for a whole host of good, heart-stopping thrillers. Perhaps I’ll write one. Nobody will buy it, but at least I would have got it down on the page and out of my system.

I got a lovely message the other day, from someone who had read my thriller ‘Burnt Offerings’. They said if it had been a movie it would have been ‘one of the best gangster films’ he had ever seen. To say that lifted me was an understatement. There is more honesty and good grace in such words than anything spouted by the self-aggrandisement one sees constantly on FB. All it does is switch me off.

Of course, I probably will occasionally post something there, but nowhere near as much as I once did. I’m going to begin to hone down my ‘friends’ too, cull the ones I don’t know, or can’t stand. The ones I wouldn’t choose to know in real-life. There are better ways to get ones voice known. Writing novels is the best way, for me. And as more people pick up a book or two, and see what I do, then they’ll pick up another, tell a friend, and the word will get round. It may take a long, long time but I’m not here for instant fixes, or multi-million sales, I’m here to write.

Simple as.

 

Glenn Stuart’s latest paranormal thriller is available in paperback, and it’s the best thing I’ve done in that genre. Visit my website for details of where to buy it, and thanks for dropping by.

www.glennstuart.co.uk

 

 

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized